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Manufacturing Taste: The (un)natural history of Kraft Dinner
August 31, 2012 6:30 AM   Subscribe

Tell me what you think of Kraft Dinner, and I will tell you who you are.
posted by the young rope-rider (201 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
Canadian.
posted by symbioid at 6:31 AM on August 31, 2012 [22 favorites]


In the US this is mac & cheese and I will cut anyone who says anything bad about it.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:36 AM on August 31, 2012 [34 favorites]


Was anyone else totally shocked to reach the end of the first page and see PAGE 1 OF 7?
posted by that's how you get ants at 6:37 AM on August 31, 2012 [59 favorites]


Was anyone else totally shocked to reach the end of the first page and see PAGE 1 OF 7?

I read the first page, but I guess you can tell my feelings about instant mac and cheese in that I was unwilling to read six more pages about it. I'm glad I earn enough that it's a treat rather than a staple. I always keep a few boxes of the deluxe version (no mixing of any ingredients required, just squeeze out the cheese packet and go!) in the cupboard for rainy days where eating bland packaged versions of comfort food is not just attractive but mandatory.
posted by Forktine at 6:43 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


We eat 3.2 boxes each in an average year, about 55 percent more than Americans do.

Does this seem like not very much to anybody else? If you're going to write seven pages about how instant macaroni and cheese is woven into the very warp and woof of your National Fabric, it seems like people ought to be eating more than three boxes of it a year. Maybe in Canada it's sold in boxes that are man-high. Who knows about these strange peoples and their strange customs.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 6:43 AM on August 31, 2012 [28 favorites]


If I had a $1,000,000 We wouldnt have to eat Kraft Dinner... but not real Kraft Dinner, cuz that's cruel.
posted by Blake at 6:44 AM on August 31, 2012 [9 favorites]


Those in the know don't throw.
posted by inturnaround at 6:45 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Does this seem like not very much to anybody else?

I was just going to say: only 3.2 boxes in an average year? I've had weeks like that, and we only lived near Canada. Kraft Dinner was one of the first hot things I learned how to make. It probably went tea, then tea and toast, then tea and toast and fried eggs, and then Kraft Dinner with that radioactive "cheese" powder.
posted by pracowity at 6:46 AM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


One scientist, who asked not to be quoted, estimates that cheese would account for no more than 29 percent of the sauce’s solids.

I guess that's why you need to add hot sauce.
posted by postcommunism at 6:47 AM on August 31, 2012


We eat 3.2 boxes each in an average year, about 55 percent more than Americans do.

In our two-person household, we eat at least one box of macaroni and cheese (usually throwing in some frozen peas and a splash of hot sauce) each month. So, even splitting that between the two of us, we eat double the Canadian average over the course of a year.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 6:48 AM on August 31, 2012


Does this seem like not very much to anybody else?

I know I eat more than that, and I would have described myself as someone who eats very little prepared/instant foods in general. But probably once a month or so I'll make some tuna mac and cheese or whatever, about as often as I make the real stuff in the oven.
posted by Forktine at 6:49 AM on August 31, 2012


Does this seem like not very much to anybody else?

Considering I absolutely refuse to eat the stuff, that seems like a ton. Seriously, I get nauseated just at the smell. Horrible fake-buttery-"cheez-food" nastiness. Gives me the chills just thinking about it.

That aside, considering that each box contains, what, six servings? That's basically eating the stuff for a whole week.
posted by valkyryn at 6:51 AM on August 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


No mention of Deluxe? That's the stuff.
posted by HumanComplex at 6:52 AM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah the number seemed low to me. Perhaps it's 3.2 boxes of the Kraft product only. There's lots of other brands. I mean, it's not a hard product to manufacture. When I was a kid in the states we had it a lot, but then my mom found that buying noodles and tomato sauce as separates was actually cheaper per meal.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:53 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you mean PC White Cheddar Macaroni & Cheese when you say Kraft Dinner (and oh, I DO), then 3.2 boxes a year sounds about right.
posted by kate blank at 6:54 AM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


Never heard of it.
posted by Decani at 6:54 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


That aside, considering that each box contains, what, six servings?

Lol!
posted by triggerfinger at 6:55 AM on August 31, 2012 [52 favorites]


If my daughter had anything to say about it, Kraft Mac n Cheese would be the only food on Earth. Period.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:56 AM on August 31, 2012


with ketchup...always...
posted by HuronBob at 6:57 AM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


But, like, gourmet ketchup.
posted by maryr at 7:03 AM on August 31, 2012 [12 favorites]


Thorzdad: "If my daughter had anything to say about it, Kraft Mac n Cheese would be the only food on Earth. Period."

Heh. I was just wondering if any other parents reading this article have heard, "Daddy, can I have mac and cheese for breakfast?"

I suppose it's better than chocolate cake. Even though there are eggs in chocolate cake. And milk.
posted by zarq at 7:03 AM on August 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


Dijon ketchup!
posted by maryr at 7:04 AM on August 31, 2012 [13 favorites]


I had no idea Canadians liked mac and cheese so much.
posted by nathancaswell at 7:04 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


maryr: "Dijon ketchup!"

MMMMM!
posted by zarq at 7:05 AM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Read the first page. No way I'm reading seven pages about Kraft Dinner.

I used to eat tons of that stuff (though we American's know is as Kraft Macaroni and Cheese) when I was a teenager. Fancying myself a chef, I would toss in a handful of frozen peas and a can of tuna fish if I was feeling creative. The secret is to add very little milk and butter. You want the cheese to coat the noodles but you don't want any liquid at the bottom of the pan. Dryer is better.

And sorry, but there is only one serving per box.

Now that I'm older and wiser and I limit myself to one or two boxes a year, and only when I'm in Canada on summer vacations. For some reason I enjoy the novelty of eating it as Kraft Dinner. One of those things I regret while eating it, and more so 30 minutes later, but it just makes me feel like a happy little kid. McDonalds is the same way and I eat that about as often.

Some friends of ours went to a supermarket deli counter and found some sort of... Kraft Dinner... lunch "meat." It was something like mortadella with Kraft Dinner mixed into it. Probably one of the worst foods I have ever seen.
posted by bondcliff at 7:06 AM on August 31, 2012


I would cook for family friends that took me in on the weekends, while at school. They gave me a place to crash, a TV to watch, and nothing to do, and in return I would arrive with bags of groceries and spend up to eight hours in the kitchen, chopping and sauteing and baking and generally having a good time.

I remember one meal I made - their two daughters LOVED macaroni and cheese, and were notoriously finicky eaters (eating little else), so I decided I would go all-out and make the most wonderful macaroni and cheese I could.

Being young and untried, I made it for my own taste, instead of my host's.

A sea of elbow noodles simmered, while I caramelized onions, rendered bacon, whipped up a white sauce, and sliced and shredded cheddar, gouda, parmesan, mozzarella, gruyere - I had no idea ...

I assembled the ingredients in a massive casserole, painstakingly layered each in turn, soaking it in white sauce, a few chopped herbs for good measure. Baked, 350 deg F, for one hour. I remember the kiln-blast of heat as I removed the cover and turned the broiler on, to get that nice, just-browned layer on top.

During the meal, the family complimented everything, but especially the macaroni and cheese. I still remember the youngest, her face a beaming smile

"Why, it's almost as good as the blue box!"

High praise! 'Almost as good' as her favorite meal, which she ate constantly.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:10 AM on August 31, 2012 [15 favorites]


Old Bay seasoning. That, or a spoonful of Colman's mustard tossed in the mix. That's the key.
posted by emelenjr at 7:11 AM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


There were 6 more pages?
posted by cjorgensen at 7:12 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Probably one of the worst foods I have ever seen.

Oh, man, once I ate that 'healthy' version of KD, with the whole wheat noodles? That was... a Big Mistake.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:13 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Just yesterday I was having a conversation with my coworker about this. My grew-up-in-the-great-depression grandma used to buy whatever knockoff brand of mac n' cheese. On the other end of the spectrum, my mother would buy nothing but the "Deluxe" macaroni and cheese that came with the Velveeta packet.
posted by Fleebnork at 7:13 AM on August 31, 2012


Kraft Dinner is not the best thing in the world, but it can be. It's all about condiments & add-ons: ketchup, spaghetti sauce, hot-dog bits, veggies, etc. It doesn't take much to make this quick/cheap meal something a bit better.
posted by Fizz at 7:14 AM on August 31, 2012


If you are an American who has relocated to Canada, the fact that it is universally known as Kraft Dinner rather than Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, as you are accustomed to thinking of it, will be one more of those little, surprising reminders that you are not quite in the country you left. It's not as though you moved to Central Asia. People still speak your language, drive on the right side of the road, share the same pop culture. Still, there are these tiny, often weirdly delightful differences that pop up.

Kraft Macaroni and Cheese is called Kraft Dinner.

DiGiorno frozen pizza is called Delissio.

Some (not all, but some) old Pontiacs are badged as something called "Asuna."

Nabisco things (Oreos, Wheat Thins, etc.) are called "Mr. Christie." And they taste different. (One thing my wife would demand on my occasional trips back to the states was American Wheat Thins. It's an odd thing to lug through airport security.)

People actually go to the doctor when they're sick.

Mentadent toothpaste is not allowed to be sold in Canada. (And that's something you can't bring large quantities of through airport security because it's... well... toothpaste.)

There are no dollar bills, but there are two-dollar coins.

Basically, it was sort of like sliding into some parallel universe where it takes you a while to notice that things aren't quite the way they used to be. It became something of a scavenger hunt for me and I strangely treasured those little differences that I found, like they were merit badges for achievement.
posted by Naberius at 7:15 AM on August 31, 2012 [33 favorites]


Woe to anyone that tries to make proper, or worse yet, gourmet mac and cheese for kids. Just as above, your kid will not be wowed. My nephew's response was:

"Hey mom, have you tried the orange stuff? It's pretty good..."
posted by anthill at 7:16 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, man, once I ate that 'healthy' version of KD, with the whole wheat noodles? That was... a Big Mistake.

I remember when Annie's Shells and Cheddar came out everyone was super excited about how it was so much better than Kraft because, you know, it was all natural or something and used white cheddar and had a bunny on the box and a bunch of marketing nonsense about being health.

But when you taste it... it's not very good. It's still mac and cheese from a box, and if you're going to eat mac and cheese from a box you're not looking for health food so you might as well eat the florescent orange crap to get that full effect.
posted by bondcliff at 7:17 AM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


Use no milk, but twice the amount of butter. Sauce isn't so drippy but instead is nice and thick. Eat with Jiffy cornbread (either on the side, or crumbled into the pasta).
posted by curious nu at 7:17 AM on August 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


Still, there are these tiny, often weirdly delightful differences that pop up.

Smarties are super-awesome versions M&Ms, instead of those sugar tablets (which I also like OK, and are called Rockets).
posted by kmz at 7:18 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Kraft: So many manufactured foods that I used to eat and haven't touched in decades.
posted by tommasz at 7:18 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't remember the last time I ate boxed mac and cheese. I think I've moved twice with a couple of boxes of Annie's. But the last time I made mac and cheese, a single serving for dinner, it was a 10-minute affair. Make the sauce while the pasta boils, drain and toss together. Only "harder" than the boxed stuff because I had to shred some cheese and make a call on when the roux was roux-y enough.

Hell, if I had used cheap cheese, I'd bet that it wouldn't even have cost more than a few cents extra.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:19 AM on August 31, 2012


Count me in among those who cringe at even the thought of that stuff, to say nothing of the baby diaper smell of it.

I made it through most of the first page before I started gagging at memories of the rank odor of that horrible ooze.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:19 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


anthill: "Woe to anyone that tries to make proper, or worse yet, gourmet mac and cheese for kids. Just as above, your kid will not be wowed. My nephew's response was:"

I think the trick is to get them used to the good stuff when they're young, and limit their exposure to the radioactive orange version. My wife and I make mac and cheese from scratch all the time for ours and they really enjoy it.

I think the orange stuff is too high in sodium to feed to any kid on a regular basis. The calories aren't that high, but there's something like 600mg of sodium per 1/4 cup serving. It's insane.
posted by zarq at 7:21 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


My happiest memory of a six week study abroad in Mongolia was finding a convenience store in Ulaan Bataar that sold Kraft Deluxe. And Coors original. Most random store imaginable.

Second happiest memory of Mongolia was meeting nomadic reindeer herders, just for some perspective.
posted by midmarch snowman at 7:22 AM on August 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


When I was a kid, KD was one of those special treats we got every now and then - Mom was too much of a health nut to let us eat it regularly. Babysitters would make us KD; or we'd make it ourselves when we went over to our friend's house to play.

Now, I find it way, WAY too salty. Because of that, if I make KD, it's homemade, so I can control the salt content. Is it just me, or has it been getting saltier as time has gone along?
posted by LN at 7:23 AM on August 31, 2012


I probably average 2-3 boxes per week. And that's not because it's cheap or easy to make. It is just delicious.
posted by stp123 at 7:26 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I loved Kraft Dinner until I learned that I could make much better mac and cheese without spending much more time or money.
posted by "But who are the Chefs?" at 7:27 AM on August 31, 2012


KD is a lot like Heinz ketchup. You simply can't replicate that flavour with "homemade" fancy materials. It will always taste a bit off of the real deal.
posted by stp123 at 7:28 AM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


After two years of being more-or-less vegan (my wife is very diligent, I tend to let my dairy-guard down when I'm travelling for work, because otherwise I wind up in airport restaurants ordering dry toast and spring rolls for dinner), the only things I miss are:

- corn dogs
- Costco hot dogs
- KD
- fast food burgers

...and that's it, really. Steak, pork chops, veal, fois gras, whatever. I don't give a toss. But when I think about hot-from-the-pot KD, especially with bits of cut-up broiled hot dog, a bit of hot sauce, a little ketchup, maybe some finely chopped green pepper... it brings a tear to the eye.
posted by Shepherd at 7:29 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've heard about Canadians and Kraft Dinner, but what part of Canada is it so popular in? I have friends in Vancouver and Montreal. Those I know from Vancouver are organic-eating types, and the Montreal folks subsist mostly on pharmaceutical enthusiasm.
posted by Blue Meanie at 7:30 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe in Canada it's sold in boxes that are man-high.

No, silly, it's sold in bags.
posted by Kabanos at 7:34 AM on August 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


My mother and I would eat KD, corned-beef hash (from a can, cut into cakes, floured up to get the crunchy outside), and canned green beans when my father went out of town, since he wouldn't eat any of those things when he was home. It was a treat.

I still love it and still have the exact combination as a dinner every now and then when my vegetarian husband is working his second shift on Sundays. (Oddly enough, I asked him once if he ever missed meat--after 20 or so years as a vegetarian--and one of the few things he said he missed was canned corned-beef hash. So that makes another reason why it's good for me to eat it when he's not in the house; I don't want to make him jealous.)
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:35 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


k.d. lang surely grew up eating Kraft Dinner, like all Canadians from the great white north's heartland.
posted by Carol Anne at 7:36 AM on August 31, 2012


I was raised without Kraft mac n cheese and my ex was a "make it from scratch using every hand wash Calphalon pan in the kitchen" guy. Now, very occasionally, we make the Central Market Organics (Whole Foods equivalent) knock-off, which is still too high in fat and salt but lacks nuclear orange dust and is still easy to put together. I know there are things I eat from childhood as comfort foods that no sane adult would ever eat--my husband winces when I want fried Spam--but that nuclear orange stuff looks and smells revolting.

(and six more pages? really?)
posted by immlass at 7:37 AM on August 31, 2012


“Tell me what you think of Kraft Dinner...”

It's that disgusting and almost completely inedible slop that other kids seemed to love, apparently because their mothers didn't love them enough to make actual macaroni and cheese with actual cheddar like mine did. To this day, I can't swallow even a mouthful. Macaroni and cheese – true, correct, proper macaroni and cheese – is a wonderful thing. Whatever that orange, shiny stuff is cannot be compared. The macaroni isn't even macaroni, even if we don't discuss the abomination that is the "cheese" powder.
posted by koeselitz at 7:38 AM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


I used to make mac & cheese in two concurrent batches (eaten consecutively, of course); one, with as little cheese powder as possible, just enough to make it worth eating, which made possible the insane cheese overload second half. Thank god you couldn't just buy the cheese powder separately or I probably would have tried to snort it.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:39 AM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


Kraft M&C was the canvas on which I painted in college, the starting point for culinary exploration on a starving person's budget. Make your pot of Mac n Cheese, then start throwing shit in. Bell peppers, jalapenos, crumbled sausage, marinara sauce, onion, garlic, mozzerella, government cheese, parmesan cheese, diced tomatoes, salsa...anything in the cupboard, really. Good stuff, but at the end of the day it was hard to see why I even needed the powder. And today all I use is the powder, on popcorn.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:40 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think the trick is to get them used to the good stuff when they're young, and limit their exposure to the radioactive orange version.

My kid is a weird one in many ways, most noticeably that he has never liked mac n' cheese. He likes noodles. He likes cheese. But not together. He prefers his noodles lightly buttered and salted, and his cheese in stick or chunk form. Unless it's on a pizza. A cheese pizza. Because meat is disgusting. Except for chicken nuggets.

I wish I could say I had some input into all that, but nope. All him.
posted by emjaybee at 7:42 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


And today all I use is the powder, on popcorn.

Next time I see Mr. Rumpole I expect his nostrils will be a suspicious shade of orange.
posted by bondcliff at 7:43 AM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


> I probably would have tried to snort it.

I remember kids making that joke about Fun Dip when we got old enough to learn about cocaine.
posted by "But who are the Chefs?" at 7:43 AM on August 31, 2012


the desolate Montreal suburb of Mont-Royal

Um, what? The very wealthy, quite central suburb of Town of Mount Royal? (I don't know where the factory is, but they're just making shit up.)
posted by jeather at 7:49 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am apparently eating several people's share of Kraft Dinner per year. It's a very streaky food for me -- if I have it in the house, I will eat it fairly quickly, but I don't tend to buy it all that often. So, 3 or 4 times a year, I buy half a dozen boxes on sale and eat them in 8 or 9 days. And other than that, I don't eat it.

The first paragraph of this article pretty much nailed me, though. I think of Kraft Dinner as comfort food, and the only reason my enjoyment of it as an adult isn't clandestine is that I use it to defend myself against charges of food elitism. I've had plenty of good Mac & Cheese over the years -- my mother made a great mac & cheese & tomato casserole that I am unable to replicate to this day, and I make a pretty mean stovetop mac -- but those are wholly different dishes in my mind, no more alike than a filet mignon and a hamburger.

I really like KD. And the things I like about it are the things that 'oh no packaged food' people find revolting. In particular, I like the fact that if you don't mix the cheese in so it all completely melts in the milk, you get this delicious metallic tang to the flavor. Mmmm. Aluminum never tasted so good.

The main thing I like about it, though, is this:

As a child, I was bullied mercilessly in school. It was awful. For literally *years* the main school yard game in my elementary school was "Jacqui Germs", a game of tag in which all of my classmates would pretend they had my cooties and try to give them to someone else. If you were the last person tagged before recess or lunch ended, you had to keep the cooties until the next break. And god forbid you actually touched me and got more cooties.

My father worked swing shift, as most of the fathers in my town did. Two weeks of day shifts, two weeks of night shifts. When he worked nights, he slept until after school started, left for work before school got out and got home after our bedtime, so we wouldn't see him for days on end. Until we got permission to go home for lunch on those days.

My Dad was no gourmet chef, but he'd reheat leftovers or heat up soup or fry eggs with onions and bacon. Sometimes he'd cook rice in milk and add sugar and cinnamon. And at least once a week during those weeks, he'd make 'macamoanie and wienies' (we were old enough to pronounce things, we just thought this was funny) -- KD with a side of boiled European wieners.

Those lunches were precious to me. I got to see my Dad, and I didn't have to stay at school witnessing another round of Jacqui Germs.

Kraft Dinner represents home to me. And safety. And love.

Kraft could start making the stuff out of Soylent Green, and I'd probably still eat it.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:50 AM on August 31, 2012 [45 favorites]


stupidsexyFlanders: “Kraft M&C was the canvas on which I painted in college, the starting point for culinary exploration on a starving person's budget. Make your pot of Mac n Cheese, then start throwing shit in. Bell peppers, jalapenos, crumbled sausage, marinara sauce, onion, garlic, mozzerella, government cheese, parmesan cheese, diced tomatoes, salsa...anything in the cupboard, really. Good stuff, but at the end of the day it was hard to see why I even needed the powder. And today all I use is the powder, on popcorn.”

Since that Kraft stuff was disgusting to me, it was Ramen I used that way in college. But as late I have noticed that Maruchan has started producing this unholy combination of the two: Maruchan Instant Lunch Cheddar Cheese-flavor Noodles. I don't think I could ever convince myself to try them, but they exist. I have sometimes wondered if they bear any resemblance to the Kraft stuff.
posted by koeselitz at 7:55 AM on August 31, 2012


We eat 3.2 boxes each in an average year, about 55 percent more than Americans do.

This is an average number, which, like all averages, hides most of the interesting stuff. For the Comfortable Canadians, KD not just the food of childhood, but the staff of life for those first few years away from home. For me, there were many Saturday mornings at university where I found myself with $2 to last until the campus cafeteria opened on Monday morning again. At the time, off-brand KD could be found on sale at the local Giant Tiger (a remainder store) for as little as 20 cents a box. A case of that and a few pats of margarine stolen from the refectory or a local coffee shop and you were sorted for the weekend.

KD even became the base material for the beginnings of food explorations: with a can of tuna and some bread crumbs, you could make a decent tuna casserole; with a box of frozen spinach it became KD Florentine. Those were the transition years when money was still tight and we were still learning to cook from scratch, not realizing that making tuna casserole was actually better and cheaper than with prepared ingredients.

As LN says, now we find it way too salty, because we're eating "adult" and being "foodies" all that.

I'm on the high side of that 3.2/year average lifetime right now, my KD days behind me---they definitely weren't salad days, I tell you that. I may approach the KD limit with time, but who knows? I hear the older you get the saltier you want you food, so maybe I'm just in a middle-age dip.
posted by bonehead at 7:57 AM on August 31, 2012


Maruchan Instant Lunch Cheddar Cheese-flavor Noodles

that's... clearly a stoner idea for stoners. i'm intrigued.
posted by twist my arm at 8:00 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can verify that after three years of living in Canada (in Quebec, no less) Canadians are crazy about KD. Even if you don't like it, you sure as heck ate it at one point in your life, mostly likely during university.
posted by Kitteh at 8:01 AM on August 31, 2012


I have a kid, so there's alway Kraft Mac & Cheese around. That's my excuse. Also, it's a great delivery method for Chipotle Tabasco sauce.
posted by eyeballkid at 8:02 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


In 1999, the company launched Kraft Dinner Cup, a line that now includes Kraft Dinner Triple Cheese in a microwaveable package. It contains twenty-one ingredients, including “cheese flavours.” Cheddar is eighth on the list. A version sold only in the US, described as Triple Cheese Cheesy Made Easy, contains forty-two ingredients, depending on how you count them.

ianad and i will still eat mac and cheese if you put it in front of my face but that sounds like cancer.
posted by twist my arm at 8:04 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


There is something attractive to the consummate food-Hoover about the utter fungibility of Kraft mac and cheese. Knowing that your meal was in no sense "made with love" ("made with MSG" is actually a much more appealing epithet to my set) means you don't have to feel guilty about shoveling the stuff down your gaping maw at Niagara rates of flow.
posted by invitapriore at 8:06 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


When I was 12 or so my step mother made macaroni salad with the Kraft stuff. She cooked the box per instructions, chilled it, added mayo, pickle, black olives. We haven't spoken since. It is amazing how one meal can change a life.
posted by M Edward at 8:08 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


The two of you have consumed, in one year, over a ton and a half of macaroni and cheese.
posted by usonian at 8:11 AM on August 31, 2012 [9 favorites]


My mom always served Kraft mac & cheese and fish sticks at the same meal. This always seemed like such a weird, nonsensical pairing to me, even though I've grown up with it. But it's apparently a thing! People even put the fish sticks on top of the mac & cheese and eat them together! What a crazy world.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:12 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


usonian: The two of you have consumed, in one year, over a ton and a half of macaroni and cheese.

I think they are the prime reason Canadians can claim to eat so much Kraft Dinner.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:21 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Damn, now I will have to go visit the grocery store on my lunch hour and buy one of the ramen-style KD cups for lunch. Just add hot water! I was brought up with the stuff, being a good Canadian, but my wife is an immigrant and really doesn't understand the appeal. A local burger joint offers it as a side, so I like going there to get my periodic hit.
posted by Bovine Love at 8:21 AM on August 31, 2012


I've never had it. Is this something you need to grow up eating to like?
posted by gyc at 8:22 AM on August 31, 2012


I remember my mom switching over from Kraft Mac and Cheese to Velveeta Shells and Cheese (with the foil pack of squeezable orange goo) at some point when I was a kid. I thought that signified that our family was moving up in the world.

(As an adult I eat Kraft about once a month; it seems to be the default side dish with turkey hot dogs or whatever last minute "I don't feel like trying today" meal.)
posted by medeine at 8:23 AM on August 31, 2012


I haven't eaten Kraft Dinner in years, but I have ineradicable memories of it. During my '50s childhood in New England, it was, in fact, sold as "Kraft Dinner," whatever it might be called nowadays.

It was the poor-but-honest Catholic family's pre-Vatican II, no-meat-on-Fridays staple: a damn sight tastier than tuna fish salad, which I despised with all my pre-adolescent being (and still do today.) I cannot read the name now without recalling--wiith that peculiar immediacy of sensory-based childhood memory-- how my brothers and I would elbow each other for the last bits of glutinous macaroni covered with that unmistakable orange sauce of a color not found in nature.

I am glad that our Neighbors to the North carry on the name and tradition.
posted by rdone at 8:23 AM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's that disgusting and almost completely inedible slop that other kids seemed to love, apparently because their mothers didn't love them enough to make actual macaroni and cheese with actual cheddar like mine did. To this day, I can't swallow even a mouthful. Macaroni and cheese – true, correct, proper macaroni and cheese – is a wonderful thing. Whatever that orange, shiny stuff is cannot be compared. The macaroni isn't even macaroni, even if we don't discuss the abomination that is the "cheese" powder.

I agree, and I'm Canadian, even played hockey for 12 years if that accounts for anything. Guess I was just born a cheese snob (my dad did grow up across the river from Oka). Or maybe I'm just hard-wired to reject any initiative that endeavors to define my nation's cuisine. I mean, that's one of the real cultural beauties of Canada -- we don't have a defined cuisine. We're a nation of immigrants. Anything goes, and often as not, it's everything all thrown together. So in the end, it's down to the ingredients and this Kraft-Mac shit is processed poison all the way. I think I'll have falafel instead, with a side of fresh-cut fries.
posted by philip-random at 8:24 AM on August 31, 2012


Um, what? The very wealthy, quite central suburb of Town of Mount Royal? (I don't know where the factory is, but they're just making shit up.)

I'm guessing it's on the other side of the T-Can, if there is indeed a part of the Town on that side. Because otherwise -- yeah. Living in TMR is still the dream for a lot of people. It's the Land of Lawns.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:27 AM on August 31, 2012


I have a three year old that has never tasted "Kraft Dinner".

If I'm reading this thread properly, I should either:
A) Never introduce her to it, as it will become the entirety of her diet, so she resembles a prechool version of a penniless grad student
or
B) Never introduce her to it, as it will obliterate her taste buds, so she will never know the joys of being pretentious about other people's comfort food.

I think I'm just going to go seal it in barrel and bury it in the backyard with a 10,000 year warning on it. It seems safer.
posted by madajb at 8:28 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cauliflower cheese fills the same niche in Britain, although I think it's on the wain, sadly. Well worth trying.
posted by cromagnon at 8:28 AM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


I love Kraft mac and cheese because I grew up eating it. So like Hamburger Helper Cheeseburger Macaroni, it's one of those foods that I would never like were it not for the memories of loving it as a kid. That said,

Is it just me, or has it been getting saltier as time has gone along?

is totally true. I eat it once or twice a year and I go into it remembering a really smooth, cheesy flavor and I just feel like all the cheese flavor has been replaced by salt to the point that I can't even really enjoy it anymore. Totally bums me out. If anyone knows of a comparable processed boxed mac & cheese food that isn't so salty, I'm all ears.
posted by triggerfinger at 8:29 AM on August 31, 2012


I hear good things about the PC Deluxe White Cheddar, although it too looks pretty heavy on the sodium.
posted by "But who are the Chefs?" at 8:31 AM on August 31, 2012


Many of the pages after the first seem unnecessary. Most of page 2 is dedicate to the history of "traditional" macaroni and has essentially nothing to do with Kraft Dinner. I guess it's important for a "complete history," but I frankly don't care. Give me my radioactive orange cheese sauce and I'm happy.

The important question: Ketchup or no?

My parents are both from Ontario and we were raised to put ketchup on our KD. But, apparently, that is not normal in Alberta. I didn't know until I was started visiting friends who were having KD for dinner when I was there. I remember a family friend jokingly complaining to my mom that we had "corrupted" her children, because now they wanted ketchup on their KD.

I mostly eat my KD without ketchup these days, but will often put a hefty squeeze of Sriracha into it.
posted by asnider at 8:34 AM on August 31, 2012


I've never had it. Is this something you need to grow up eating to like?

No.

I had it exactly once as a child, in maybe third grade or so at a friend's house, and thought it was weird and nasty compared to the real cheese, baked stuff my mother made from scratch. And then a friend made me some in my twenties and I caught on that it has nothing in common with actual, you know, macaroni and cheese, but is just a pleasantly bland and salty mushy treat. It's not particularly healthy, but neither is a lot of other food we eat, and as long as it's a once in a while thing I don't think it will kill you.
posted by Forktine at 8:34 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Kraft-Mac shit is processed poison all the way

yes. as the article goes into quite clearly.

the author describing her short stint as a food-taster:

I find myself at a table in a room full of strangers, staring at a hospital tray that holds my tools for the next two hours: a cup of distilled water, a few crackers, another empty cup with a lid, a white napkin, and a plastic spoon. The first sample arrives: a Styrofoam cup labelled number 943. ...We will have eleven more macaroni and cheese dishes placed before us over the next two hours.

...

From inside the belly of the food-producing beast, one thing becomes clear: this is not a way to make food, but a way to manufacture fuel — for our bodies, and for the hungry consumer market. The food industry, like any empire, depends on expansion for success: to survive, it must continue to increase both its output and its consumer base.
posted by twist my arm at 8:35 AM on August 31, 2012


If your problem with KD is that it's too salty, you definitely do not want to eat PC Deluxe White Cheddar.

On the All Important Ketchup Issue:

As a child, I appreciated ketchup in my KD. I gave that up long about the same time I gave up eating Ketchup Chips. I do not judge those who do eat it with ketchup, it is simply no longer my thing.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:36 AM on August 31, 2012


It's that disgusting and almost completely inedible slop that other kids seemed to love, apparently because their mothers didn't love them enough to make actual macaroni and cheese with actual cheddar like mine did.

Whoa now...my mother made a damn fine homemade mac and cheese. And it's great. But comparing homemade to KD is just not fair. It's like comparing a gourmet burger to a Big Mac. Both have their place, but they're entirely different foods despite sharing common elements and having similar names.
posted by asnider at 8:38 AM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


The factory appears to be in that corner of TMR (very wealthy area in Montreal) near Decarie, which remains central and dense. Is there some law that industrial areas need to be called "desolate", even when they are nowhere near?

Anyways, I figure the rest of the article is probably also filled with a massive lack of facts.
posted by jeather at 8:38 AM on August 31, 2012


As a teenage boy I regularly made a box of this after work (i.e., late night) and ate it all straight from the pan. In college I learned to add some Mrs. Dash. Once I added chili, but I quickly shied away from such licentiousness.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:38 AM on August 31, 2012


Himself and I so rarely eat KD that the one box we kept in the dark reaches of the pantry went bad. Yes, there actually IS an expiry date on those blue boxes... and yes, they really mean it. The pasta cooked up fine, but the In-No-Way-Natural-Orange cheeze powder went all funny, and the sauce produced when milk & butter were added turned Unfortunately-Natural-Brown and emitted a indescribably potent stench that lingered in the kitchen for hours. It was only then that I checked the box and realized it was a year out of date.

Obviously we are part of the Canadian population that skews the average downward. If you eat 6.4 boxes per year, it's you having our share.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 8:39 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Basically, it was sort of like sliding into some parallel universe where it takes you a while to notice that things aren't quite the way they used to be. It became something of a scavenger hunt for me and I strangely treasured those little differences that I found, like they were merit badges for achievement.

I'm blasé about the little stuff.

The one thing I'm still not used to is driving a car up here:
1) they drive on the left like in the UK.
2) they're very bad about staying in their lane.
3) they use their horns continuously. It's like something existential: 'Hi! Here I am! I exist! I see you!'

I feel like I'm taking my life into my hands every time I get on the road; it's like cars cut over the centre line almost the instant they see me. Hooooooooooonk.

The cool part about driving up here is that speed limits make a lot more sense than down south: residential streets are signposted 40 – 50 miles per hour, while highways are 100.
posted by sebastienbailard at 8:39 AM on August 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


(But I am from the part of Minnesota not very close to Canada, so maybe this is more f just a Teenage Boys Like Carbs thing.)
posted by wenestvedt at 8:39 AM on August 31, 2012


I make what I call "bachelor chow" (named in my university years, pre-dating Futurama by at least 10 years) -- one box of KD, preferably PC white cheddar made with extra butter, one can of green beans, and 4 hot dogs cut up. One pot, one spoon, supper is done with little fuss and clean up.
posted by fimbulvetr at 8:40 AM on August 31, 2012


I swear I didn't even know there were six more pages after the first but the article seemed to try to bend itself into a "we're too busy to cook anymore" knot from the get-go, saying we devote just 42 minutes a day now to cooking meals, and how that's OMGSIXMINUTESLESS than twenty years ago. This after pointing out that KD was developed in the 1930s. Can we retroactively blame the cheese powder for our laziness?

Hell no.

(I must admit I LOVE seeing everyone's..er...justifications for eating it, or having eaten it growing up. It's delicious. Just admit it. My grandmother made it for me every Saturday night when I would stay with her in the summers and we'd watch hockey. My mom made it when she was pressed for time (in the early eighties, when we probably devoted god knows how many minutes less to cooking than they did in 1963- the horror of it all- and I ate it through Uni and now serve it to my kids a couple times a month, who love it too. I believe at this point it's a genetic thing.)
posted by pink candy floss at 8:42 AM on August 31, 2012


The one thing I'm still not used to is driving a car up here:
1) they drive on the left like in the UK.
2) they're very bad about staying in their lane.
3) they use their horns continuously. It's like something existential: 'Hi! Here I am! I exist! I see you!'


I see what you did there...
posted by asnider at 8:44 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I got just one word for youse bachelor types: Ramen.

Okay, two words: egg.

You can drop an egg on the noodles a couple of minutes before you turn off the heat. Where I come from, Mac and Cheese is not what we feed people, it's what we threaten people with.

I haven't eaten 3.2 boxes of Mac and Cheese since I got out of college.
posted by mule98J at 8:45 AM on August 31, 2012


This makes me wish that someone had uploaded the hidden "Kraft Dinner" track off Hayden's Everything I Long For.
posted by ifjuly at 8:46 AM on August 31, 2012


(on YT, that is)
posted by ifjuly at 8:46 AM on August 31, 2012


I was in my second year at university when Kraft launched their 'white cheddar' version of KD. I entered the recipe contest that they were using to promote it, and won a a full case -- quite a score for a starving undergraduate. I think my 'recipe' involved adding diced pepperoni, green peppers and sour cream.

I remember eating the orange KD as a kid - with ketchup, although the thought of having ketchup with it now disgusts me. I can remember lining up the noodles in a little bunch, thinking it looked like dynamite (hey, I watched a lot of bugs bunny cartoons). Later, though, my mom started making 'homemade' mac & cheese. This was not the traditional casserole, but simply macaroni with shredded cheese and a can of tomatoes stirred into it. Tasty, but not the same thing at all.

As an adult, I still enjoy the occasional box of KD -- and the real thing beats out all the store brands for me. I prefer the 'extra creamy' version, although it's kind of a bummer that it uses curved, instead of straight noodles.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 8:47 AM on August 31, 2012


As a Canadian, I can attest to its ubiquity. And I also can attest that it is awesome. It's more of a lunch thing with me and I'll probably go through maybe 15 in a year. I even have a homemade blue and yellow 'KD' bowl that I made in high school art class. Back then, I probably literally had about 50-80 servings of KD a year.

Besides being tasty, it's dirt cheap. Probably less than a buck all in.

One of the [many] interesting things that my wife brought to our relationship was the existence of 'Krafty-Ichy" which is the unholy combination of Kraft Dinner and Ichiban noodles, which is another Canadian staple. I can take or leave the taste, but it seems like a perfect combo of cheap noodles and sauce.
posted by Phreesh at 8:48 AM on August 31, 2012


I have two kids. I buy Kraft Mac & Cheese in the 12 pack at Costco, not because I cook it all the time, but because KM&C with sliced up hot dogs in it is something that my husband* and all of our regular babysitters can easily and safely prepare, and the kids will wolf it down. Add tinned fruit on the side, mm mm good. No, it's not even remotely good for you, but it's better than McDonald's -- and cheaper, too.

*my husband is a wonderful man with many talents, but cooking is not one of them. I do all the meal planning for our household, even if I'm not going to be here for the meal.
posted by KathrynT at 8:52 AM on August 31, 2012


3.2 boxes a year sounds right. Those of Asian or middle eastern descent (and there are a lot of those) would eat near zero (except what their kids are served at day cares and friend's houses). Chinese and Japanese restaurants don't serve milk - how would you expect people of Chinese and Japanese descent to even prepare KD?

There is also a strong age related curve to eating mac and cheese. I couldn't tell you where the peak is - whether it's kids or university students or bachelors. I would think though that there is a steep dip in consumption starting at age 40 (when the parents stop scarfing the kids' KD) leveling off to near zero by age 65.

So, accounting for two large groups of people that consume near zero of the stuff, they account for our age and racial bias in anecdotal KD consumption.

Personally, I bought it by the case in university and now limit my consumption to the Annie's equivalent (scarfed from my daughter's). As soon as she hits the macaroni limit, my consumption will probably go to zero (unless I get sick and can't eat solid food - KD doesn't count as a solid).
posted by crazycanuck at 8:55 AM on August 31, 2012


Kraft Dinner goes with pork and beans. One box + one can = dinner for two, or dinner plus leftovers for lunch. You can mix the KD with the bean sauce or add some ketchup or sriracha halfway through (first half you eat unadulterated).

That said, I doubt I've eaten any in a year or more. So some of you are eating my share too.
posted by arcticwoman at 8:56 AM on August 31, 2012


I stopped eating wheat a couple of months ago, and KD is one of the foods I crave and miss the most. That, and pizza. I was probably going through 1-2 boxes of KD a week.
posted by rocket88 at 8:58 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just once make your own cheese sauce - heat a few ounces of cream, add a knob of butter and a handful of grated cheese, mix together. Takes about a minute, tastes like heaven.
posted by w0mbat at 8:59 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am unapologetic in my fondess for day-glo orange macaroni & cheese (doesn't necessarily have to be Kraft, although some store brands are better than others) as comfort food. For added awesome slice and brown a kielbasa, and combine.
posted by usonian at 9:00 AM on August 31, 2012


My photoshopped lomo'ized photo of KD and ketchup is the second most viewed photo in my flickr photostream of 4000+ photos. I am amazed by this.
posted by srboisvert at 9:03 AM on August 31, 2012


It's like comparing a gourmet burger to a Big Mac.

Yeah, I don’t know who eats Big Macs either. Maybe for $100.

Himself and I so rarely eat KD that the one box we kept in the dark reaches of the pantry went bad.

The same happened to us, but then my wife had some and decided she wanted to start eating it, so she bought a big box from Costco. The urge died quickly and now it’s been sitting here for years.
posted by bongo_x at 9:07 AM on August 31, 2012


I’m still trying to understand why it’s called Kraft Dinner in Canada. It’s not anything like a whole dinner, even when we were poor kids and ate it all the time. I thought for sure this article was about something else I didn’t know about.
posted by bongo_x at 9:10 AM on August 31, 2012


When my mom was in college, she and her roommate used to make one box of KD and have it for dinner for two nights in a row. That's 1/4 of a box per person per meal. Insane. (Mind you, she had no money.) No wonder she was so teeny in her wedding photos....
posted by cider at 9:13 AM on August 31, 2012


I’m still trying to understand why it’s called Kraft Dinner in Canada.

Because it says so on the box! Even in the US, every box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese I've ever seen has billed, and still bills, itself as "Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Dinner." "Dinner" is in smaller letters, but it's always there.

Granted, I don't know why exactly Canada zoomed in on the "Dinner" while America went for the "Macaroni & Cheese," but that's clearly what happened. (I also don't know if the "Dinner" was bigger on the box when it was first issued--that may well have had something to do with it. Off to see if I can find some vintage pics. . . )
posted by dlugoczaj at 9:18 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have it once or twice a month. The comfort aspect is there, of course, and maybe there's a craving for it once in a while, but I tend to have it when I'm going somewhere after work and need a quick meal that's not a sandwich. It's hot, filling, guaranteed. And I like it.

I make it as dry as possible, and serve with two hot dogs at the bottom of the pile. Big glass of milk.
posted by Capt. Renault at 9:19 AM on August 31, 2012


Oh, bongox, here we go. This is awesome.
posted by dlugoczaj at 9:20 AM on August 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


Man, I am just LOVING the bits of CanCon going on in this thread that our American Mefites are missing. Warm and fuzzy because of Kraft was not an expected emotion when I got out of bed this morning.
posted by Cosine at 9:20 AM on August 31, 2012


oh, also

"fattening up our tapeworms!"
posted by Cosine at 9:20 AM on August 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


It's KD because, in Canada at least, "Kraft Dinner" is what's on the box. Here are (US I think) boxes from the 40s and 50s. The top box art on this page is the iconic one from the 70s and 80s that would be instantly recognizable to most Canadians.
posted by bonehead at 9:21 AM on August 31, 2012


I stopped eating wheat a couple of months ago, and KD is one of the foods I crave and miss the most.

I was going to suggest Kraft Dinner Smart, which is made with vegetable flour, but apparently the noodles are still primarily made with wheat, they just add some vegetable flour in the mix so that they can claim it's a healthier version.
posted by asnider at 9:28 AM on August 31, 2012


Here are (US I think) boxes from the 40s and 50s.

I love how the box picture makes it into a "legitimate" meal by topping it with salmon.

*vomits*
posted by triggerfinger at 9:38 AM on August 31, 2012


I'm from the US and that's where I live now. Definitely grew up eating mac'n'cheese, though it was often the generic brand for added money savings. Then I went on my mormon mission to Alberta for 2 years and I was utterly ASTOUNDED at the prevalence of Kraft Dinner. It was kind of weird to me, but also kind of awesome. Never liked the ketchup thing, though.*

And for the record, the Kraft brand really is the only brand worth eating [previous Doleful Creature MeFi Comment about Kraft Dinner].

*I'm sure I've said this before and I'm sure I'll say it again but Canada really is THE BEST. It's the US only nicer, with more flannel and this really awesome french fries meal that when you tell someone what it's called they think you've just used a dirty word oh oh and did you know that Oreos are made with different ingredients in Canada and that they taste better than their USian versions? And don't even get me started about Wunderbars!
posted by Doleful Creature at 9:38 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Canadian here. Funny. Growing up, I never had Kraft Dinner, despite my family not really being in the Comfortable Canadians grouping. In fact, I'm pretty sure I didn't ever try it until second year university or thereabouts, when other people made it and my boyfriend-at-the-time had grown up with it (another of his favourites was Alphagetti on toast, so...)

I can't eat gluten anymore. I don't miss KD or anything, but occasionally, I buy the GF version (not official KD, obviously, but an organic GF version, because those two descriptive words often go hand-in-hand) and I'm always surprised at how gross it makes me feel, how little in the way of food groups it has in it, even as the high-quality version.

Though... Maybe the grossness is partially also because I, too, see it as maybe 1.5 servings per box, rather than 6.

My family's staple, growing up, was Chef Boyardee Mini Ravioli. Man, I ate a lot of that stuff as a kid.
posted by urbanlenny at 9:52 AM on August 31, 2012


Furhter to this little mystery of nomenclature: from dlugoczaj's link:
Although the product was originally called Kraft Dinner in Canada and the United States, the name is now foreign to most Americans, where the product is now simply called Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. In Canada, however, the product is still known as Kraft Dinner (or KD).

We reached out to Kraft Foods directly for an explanation. The best answer we could get attributes the change to a packaging redesign in 1958, which inserted the phrase “Macaroni and Cheese” between “Kraft” and “Dinner.”

The 50s link appears to be the point of divergence, when the US started to use "Macaroni and Cheese" as the name, rather than KD.
posted by bonehead at 9:52 AM on August 31, 2012


I ate plenty of Kraft mac and cheese as a kid, but I don't think I could stomach the stuff now. The last time I ate in (~10 years ago) was distinctly underwhelming. That being said, Kraft is right about one thing: emulsifying salts.

If you want truly great mac and cheese, you have to use emulsifying salts - I use sodium citrate. It allows you to take any cheese that you want (no matter how dry - I like aged cheddar + gruyere) and turn it into a smooth sauce that will not leak oil. Furthermore you don't have to add unnecessary starch or thickener like you would making a bechamel/mornay sauce as the base for your mac and cheese. The flavor is intense and unadulterated cheese. It is wonderful.
posted by nolnacs at 9:53 AM on August 31, 2012 [8 favorites]


Fundamentalist macaroni and cheese.
posted by madcaptenor at 9:59 AM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


I must be an anomaly. I grew up in rural TN, daughter to a working poor single mother. And I HAAATEEE this stuff. Always have. I remember in pre-school they served it for lunch, and I refused to eat it. So the teacher lead the class in a sing-a-long of Yankee Doodle Dandy trying to cajole me to eat it (I guess because "stuck a feather in his hat and called it macaroni" is some sort of pro-mac and cheese sentiment). So on top of just not liking it, I also have the social humiliation association.

I am not a food snob. Chef Boyardee is one of my trashy comfort foods. I love Jeno's Cripsy and Tasty pizzas. But I cannot figure out the appeal of this stuff. It tastes like bland wallpaper paste to me. But my own sister adores it, and we always had it around the house. And while I love cheese and I like pasta, even fancier homemade mac and cheese often leaves me wanting. Throw some meat and veg in, and I'm there. But plain old mac and cheese is just not my thing.
posted by kimdog at 10:03 AM on August 31, 2012


All you have left is one Kraft dinner
That I brought back for you last summer


I do actually have some in the house, to cook up and add to my dog's food when she's being extra picky about eating (Dinty Moore canned beef stew works, too). Reading this thread though, I'm tempted to cook some up for myself. It's been years since college.
posted by vers at 10:03 AM on August 31, 2012


I just went from drinking no sodium beef broth & eating a handful of almonds to a big bowl of white mac 'n' cheese with horseradish and grated carrot (because that's the only veg I could find besides frozen spinach). I didn't even know I had it in my pantry.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 10:04 AM on August 31, 2012


Naberius:

I know exactly what you mean because I did the opposite move. Have you noticed yet that Smarties are called Rockets and Rockets are called Smarties?

And you don't have to show ID in Canada to buy cough medicine. Though I do remember discovering the wonders of Naproxen (which was not OTC in Canada when I left).

And I remember the first time I saw a "Checks Cashed Here" sign and almost took a picture to send into the Phillyist for their "Proofreading Philadelphia" feature on misspelled signs.

Doleful Creature: And for the record, the Kraft brand really is the only brand worth eating [previous Doleful Creature MeFi Comment about Kraft Dinner].

Actually, my wife has won me over to the dark side. We don't eat KD often, but when we do it is President's Choice White Cheddar.
posted by 256 at 10:08 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I used to know a kid who put soya sauce on his Kraft Dinner. I tried it and it was delicious! For many years afterward I ate my 3.2 boxes per year with soya sauce. I've recently switched back to a little blob of ketchup on the side of my plate to dab my forkful into. Along with grilled cheese sandwiches and scramble eggs, Kraft Dinner is where kids start doing their own cooking.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 10:10 AM on August 31, 2012


I recommend folks read the other 6 pages. It's interesting!

My mom would make mac and cheese but add in Tillamook cheese, put decorative slices of bologna on top and then bake it. She was doing "semi-homemade" before it was cool.
posted by vespabelle at 10:14 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


This makes KD, not poutine, our de facto national dish.

This made me wonder...has anyone ever dared to make KD poutine?
posted by malocchio at 10:14 AM on August 31, 2012


Never understood the stuff. Cook some noodles, stir in some grated cheese, milk, and butter. Bake. That's just as easy as opening a box, and permits extra cheesification. And if you're on a tight budget, why are you blowing it on packaged food when you can make a VAT of the real thing for a few cents more, then add peas and tuna to the leftovers and call it "casserole"?
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:18 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's training wheels for food, is what I think. A kid who barely knows how to boil water can pick up a box of KD and get an edible meal in 15 minutes.

Being able to make your own noodles is absolutely cheaper---buttered noodles is even easier---but you have to know the recipe, plan ingredients and all that. The genius of KD is that it can be made with stuff most kids already have, milk for cereal, margarine for toast, with no recipe or plan.
posted by bonehead at 10:27 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


And don't even get me started about Wunderbars!

I don’t think the Southrons have Eat-More, either, although commentary is mixed on whether or not they’re getting the short end of the stick on that one.

KD is certainly a midwest staple. 3.2 sounds about right for me, now, but as a kid it was certainly more. I think my fam is all pro-ketchup (or pro-something vinegary to mix it up – ketchup, dill pickles, something). We only differ on how creamy the sauce should be.

One thing I haven’t seen mentioned is that lesser-known, probably less-enjoyed product that is the Kraft Pizza Kit. Coming from a strictly home-made pizza household, with delivery pizza simply not going to happen, I enjoyed the KPK far more than it probably deserved. Which should probably be Kraft’s motto, or something.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:29 AM on August 31, 2012


soya sauce

Is that another Canadian thing? I don't know if I've ever heard it called anything but "soy sauce" in the USA.
posted by dlugoczaj at 10:30 AM on August 31, 2012


Suddenly getting flashbacks of that episode of Life Goes On where Corky is trying to be a "real" adult living with his girlfriend and they make Kraft Dinner and it comes out crunchy and they sit there at the table crunching away at it defeated, like a symbol their future happiness isn't possible because they couldn't even make Kraft Dinner! or something.
posted by ifjuly at 10:34 AM on August 31, 2012


margarine for toast

That's another thing--I HAVE to make KD with margarine, NOT butter; it just doesn't taste right otherwise.

I grew up with margarine instead of butter; REAL butter was only for fancy guest occasions and my mother had to stop me from eating nothing but bread and butter every time. My household since I married has been nothing but butter, and I realized the first time I substituted it in KD that it was wrong, and since then I've had to buy margarine expressly for the purpose of KD. (I freeze the stuff, since I don't eat KD on a regular basis.) Butter's fine for the Annie's that my husband prefers our kids (and himself) to eat, and I'll eat it there with no complaints. But for the blue box--there's no question.
posted by dlugoczaj at 10:36 AM on August 31, 2012


Soya/Soy is a UK/US thing. Canadians tend to pick one at random.
posted by bonehead at 10:46 AM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


iI don’t think the Southrons have Eat-More, either

I have a friend who refers to Eat-More as the "hotdog of the chocolate world". But whatever; Eatmores are delicious.
posted by urbanlenny at 10:53 AM on August 31, 2012


Soya/Soy is a UK/US thing. Canadians tend to pick one at random.

It's generational from what I've seen, 55+ it seems to be Soya, younger folk say it correct as Soy.
posted by Cosine at 10:54 AM on August 31, 2012


A few years ago, I interviewed a Canadian chef who did some consulting work on this particular legendary product. He told me a great story about Kraft-Canada and how they wanted to rebrand KD as Macaroni & Cheese (as it is in the US) but were told that because of labeling laws, the closest they could legally get was *Kraft Macaroni & Whey*. Not quite as appealing, eh?
posted by yellowcandy at 10:56 AM on August 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


It's generational from what I've seen, 55+ it seems to be Soya, younger folk say it correct as Soy.

My parents, who are just shy of 55, call it "soya." I grew up calling it that, but have referred to it as "soy" since before I moved out, so it does seem to be a generational thing.

As for soy sauce on KD...I dunno. I'm tempted to try it the next time I make a box, but it doesn't sound promising.
posted by asnider at 10:58 AM on August 31, 2012


...from what I've seen, 55+ it seems to be Soya....

Hey, watch it now!
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 11:00 AM on August 31, 2012


KD is the NDP of Canadian food. The dream eternal of healthy and easy food for everyone!

Even the orange and green party colors evoke the "classy, do-it-yourself" neon-sauce / spinach 'florentine' of yesteryear. (Or depending on your viewpoint, the one or two stuck-on-the-side-of-the-pot noodles that were missed at 3am after coming back from the local drinkery / the facial complexion of any attendees the next morning)

When one is young, poor, impressionable, growing up or getting educated: it's the Best Thing Ever.

As one ages, one starts to see some inconsistencies, the half-truths.

Made with Real Cheese! 8th behind salt, phosphor, luminescent plankton, etc.

Only 15% daily value of sodium! Per 50g serving not the whole box you just ate

And finally, reality sets in when the Canadian Pirate Party appropriates KD; no doubt related to the party leader's contraction of scurvy in the local university's dormitory that your dorm-mate heard about and yes it totally happened I mean how could it not he only ate KD for months!
posted by Khazk at 11:05 AM on August 31, 2012


I never really had it as a kid, but I've eaten a fair amount since I've moved out of the folk's place just out of convenience. I definitely prefer ramen don't have some sentimental attachment to it though.

HOWEVER if you're going to add stuff to it (ketchup, spices, real cheese, what have you), everyone ought to know that the correct answer is sriracha. Anything else is exactly wrong.
posted by juv3nal at 11:16 AM on August 31, 2012


I've only ever called it soya sauce, and that is what my wife calls it too. and we're under 40.
posted by fimbulvetr at 11:22 AM on August 31, 2012


Eat-Mores are alright, actually most Canadian candy is pretty rockin' with the exception of Big Turk *shudder*
posted by Doleful Creature at 11:54 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


And maybe I'm weird but I quite enjoy Thrills gum too.
posted by Doleful Creature at 11:57 AM on August 31, 2012


Does this seem like not very much to anybody else? If you're going to write seven pages about how instant macaroni and cheese is woven into the very warp and woof of your National Fabric, it seems like people ought to be eating more than three boxes of it a year.

Bear in mind many of us Canadians are immigrants and I have had this conversation recently since the cover story with friends and colleagues both native and immigrant and NONE of us blow-ins have so much as tasted the stuff. So maybe take us out of the equation and the average would be higher.
posted by jamesonandwater at 12:11 PM on August 31, 2012


I love Eat-Mores! I don't get the hate for them. It's chewy chocolatey-fudgy-toffee stuff with nuts in it. What's not to love?
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 12:11 PM on August 31, 2012


I've only ever called it soya sauce, and that is what my wife calls it too. and we're under 40.

New theory: it's Central Canada thing (or at least an Ottawa valley thing), sort of like how Canadians all supposedly say "Chesterfield" even though I've never once heard one of my fellow Albertans call a couch anything other than a couch (or, very occasionally, a sofa).

It seems to me that a lot of "Canadianisms" are actually "Ontarioisms."
posted by asnider at 12:13 PM on August 31, 2012


I'm originally from Niagara and my wife from Kingston, so not just Ottawa Valley. Maybe an Ontario thing. Maybe you Albertans have just been too Americanised . . . .

I don't think anyone under 80 uses Chesterfield anymore though.
posted by fimbulvetr at 12:22 PM on August 31, 2012


I live in the Ottawa Valley, and have a brother-in-law farmer who runs a farm services business. Talking to him, it's about 50/50 soybean/soya bean.

I've written a few papers on soya bean oil with Chinese (who all seem to call it soya bean), US (soybean only!) and Canadian (just pick one, please!) co-authors. I can't even tell up from down on that anymore.
posted by bonehead at 12:24 PM on August 31, 2012


I couldn't sleep last night so around 5:30 I got up, padded into the kitchen, peered in the fridge to see what I could reheat, and noticed there wasn't much that I could eat and safely go back to sleep afterwards. The leftover pizza was tempting, but full of meats and grease and stuff I could have had ten years ago and been fine with, but eating that now would just wake me back up fairly quickly with a stomach full of blech.

So I started the water, grabbed a blue box from the pantry, cut up a bit of cold ham to add in, and I watched the sun come up in the living room while enjoying a big bowlful of orange macaroni (an actual bowl felt like the right thing to do; no eating straight from the pot this morning) while the cat sat on the edge of the couch trying to weasel his way on over for a bite. It was quiet and peaceful and I went back to bed to sleep a few hours more.

That's pretty much what Kraft Dinner/Macaroni & Cheese/that stuff means to me. Comfort food on short notice and that's good.
posted by Spatch at 12:37 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hmm. I recall the older generation using “Chesterfield” sometimes, but that may or may not have been because they spent some years in Ontario before I came along.

I keep to a strict 1.0 Big Turk / year. Cherry Blossom 1 / 5 years. But I can’t properly resist a Wig Wag (possibly a Curley Wurley to you). And I consume 7-Eleven/Macs/Couche-Tard/Mohawk/Cdn Tire slurpees year-round, like a proper Canadian.

Eat-Mores are possibly the comfort food pinnacle of chocolate bars. No unusual ingredients. No challenging flavours. Not excessively sweet. As a bonus, it's one of the few chocolate bars that aren't completely wrecked by a little heat, so it can sit in your glove box or trunk until that snack (or actual) emergency.

Anyway, back to KD. Parmesan or no? I say why not.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:42 PM on August 31, 2012


I'm a born Canuck, and to the best of my knowledge I have never (and will never) eat KD. My gods, why would I? I like food!
posted by five fresh fish at 1:14 PM on August 31, 2012


I am not Canadian, but from the Northeast US. I love Mac and Cheese. My best friend and I used to make it while we were stoned. His mother appreciated that, I think. We would clean out her entire kitchen if left to our own devices. She learned to always have at least two boxes around. I feel nostalgia, comfort, and general happiness when I eat it now. I prefer it to almost all non-luxury restaurant meals. I make it extra cheesy, noodles undercooked, with a sauce made of extra milk and various added cheeses. I use the cheese packet as well. Hot sauce or chili powder dependent on mood, sometimes random frozen vegetable x, or a hot dog. Mine is more like a cheese soup.

There are a great many ideas in here. Thanks for a strange thread.
posted by Arquimedez Pozo at 1:50 PM on August 31, 2012


Anyway, back to KD.

Please. We haven't even talked about fried KD sandwiches yet.
posted by bonehead at 1:52 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I didn't have boxed macaroni and cheese until I was an adult. My mom made it from scratch with an entire box of Velvetta, as nature intended.
posted by Eumachia L F at 1:55 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


(Velveeta. sorry)
posted by Eumachia L F at 1:56 PM on August 31, 2012


These fried KD sandwiches, you will tell us more about them!
posted by empatterson at 2:03 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


KD is the NDP of Canadian food. The dream eternal of healthy and easy food for everyone!

Also: It is orange.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:04 PM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]



It's that disgusting and almost completely inedible slop that other kids seemed to love, apparently because their mothers didn't love them enough to make actual macaroni and cheese with actual cheddar like mine did.

Wow. My parents both cooked, actually, but great assumption that only mothers cook and that if they don't cook from scratch they don't love you enough.

My mother cooked mac n cheese from scratch and made the Kraft stuff sometimes and I never suffered a loss of love from her if she made something from a box. My father usually would just make us Indian food if it was his night to cook.
posted by sweetkid at 2:17 PM on August 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


Eumachia L F, that's great. One of my aunts used to give my mom crap for letting us eat Kraft Mac 'n Cheese, and when we'd visit her she always made a point to make us proper homemade from-scratch macaroni and cheese--with Velveeta. So much more natural and healthy, y'know?

I've been defending my occasional blue-box mac n' cheese habit to my friends for years, and so I was kind of sad recently to realize that the last few times I've eaten it I immediately regretted it because I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as I was expecting to--and that's even making it the proper way, with the spiral-shaped version and about 1/3 of the noodles thrown out so there's more sauce to lick from the bottom of the bowl. I'm craving it right now, in fact, but I know that if I have any I'll just be disappointed.

Now I do still love me some Kraft Tangy Italian Spaghetti Dinner. I throw out the awful pasta they include and just use the packet of what is surely just delicious monosodium glutamate in its purest and most concentrated form to make sauce to put over my own noodles. I haven't seen this stuff in stores since I was a kid in eastern NC, but I was so happy to discover that Amazon sells it by the case (one of which lasts me a couple years). I wish I could just buy the powder alone, like you can with the mac 'n cheese powder.
posted by rhiannonstone at 2:41 PM on August 31, 2012


It seems to me that a lot of "Canadianisms" are actually "Ontarioisms."

OKAY, so can we talk about the weirdest Ontarioism of all (or is it???) which is to pronounce bathe as bath. Bath as in rhymes with...math. I know multiple native-born Canadians who say "I had to bath the dog tonight" or "Did you have to bath the dog when you came home from the park?" and it's honestly everything I can do to stop myself from screaming WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT YOU HAD TO BAYTHE HIM OH MY GOD.
posted by kate blank at 2:45 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


I live in Ontario and I've never heard that. It is a Britishism, though.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:50 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


sweetkid: “Wow. My parents both cooked, actually, but great assumption that only mothers cook and that if they don't cook from scratch they don't love you enough. My mother cooked mac n cheese from scratch and made the Kraft stuff sometimes and I never suffered a loss of love from her if she made something from a box. My father usually would just make us Indian food if it was his night to cook.”

Yeah, that was supposed to be a joke, but it sounded all too earnest. And it's a pernicious cultural artifact, my insistence that love is related in any way to what kind of food a parent prepares, an artifact that should have died long ago. My apologies.
posted by koeselitz at 3:13 PM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


(I still think the box stuff is inedible, though.)
posted by koeselitz at 3:13 PM on August 31, 2012


Good old mac'n'cheese ... the food that fueled Beethoven's symphonies!
posted by Twang at 3:47 PM on August 31, 2012


Someone above mentioned Chef Boy Ar Dee mini raviolis. I occasionally eat them. Cold, right out of the can. Usually in the dead of night, far from the sight of normal persons. I do not want the town folk to know of my shame. I would be shunned. Especially when I drink the remaining sauce.

Pity me...
posted by Splunge at 3:48 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Fried KD sandwiches are an answer to the problem of what to do with congealed leftovers. This was typically a weekend morning problem, fuelled by post bar carb consumption.

No surprises, take a solid mass of KD, preferably day old, slice as thick as a piece of bread, fry both sides in marg until crispy, turning only once. Serve on bread. Traditionally accompanied by ketchup, but I liked to put a few slices of bacon on mine too. Typical half batch remains were enough for two sandwiches.

With milk or a stubby, perfect for the Sunday morning pre game show.
posted by bonehead at 4:30 PM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is my lesson for snarking in-thread: my new posts feed now includes disgusting recipes for coronary disasters. I am ever so grateful my momma raised me on fresh veggies and meats.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:00 PM on August 31, 2012


Fried KD sandwiches are a new one for me, but I know of an Ontario burger chain that sells burgers topped with KD and cheddar. According to a friend, they're delicious.
posted by peppermind at 6:20 PM on August 31, 2012


Hated Kraft mac and cheese. Hated the quickie Velveeta stuff, too. I'm all about potatoes.

I'm not English, but all this talk of starchy processed foods that I really, REALLY need to stop eating, and suddenly I want a chip butty with brown sauce.

/needs to go back to London ::sigh::
posted by droplet at 6:30 PM on August 31, 2012


No surprises, take a solid mass of KD, preferably day old, slice as thick as a piece of bread, fry both sides in marg until crispy, turning only once. Serve on bread. Traditionally accompanied by ketchup, but I liked to put a few slices of bacon on mine too. Typical half batch remains were enough for two sandwiches.


I will make sure to give you the credit when I make this for my 15-year-old son.
posted by cooker girl at 6:55 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


*better yet, when I teach my 15-year-old son to make this for himself.
posted by cooker girl at 6:55 PM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


You know, if you do have a box of KD around, just boil the noodles, drain, stir in some drained Balkan yogurt, black pepper, hot paprika and dill weed, then sprinkle in a modest amount of the orange powder (made from crushed Fiestaware, I think). The combo of green dill, heat from the paprika and cool, rich yogurt really save it.
posted by maudlin at 7:16 PM on August 31, 2012


My mom always served Kraft mac & cheese and fish sticks at the same meal. This always seemed like such a weird, nonsensical pairing to me, even though I've grown up with it. But it's apparently a thing! People even put the fish sticks on top of the mac & cheese and eat them together! What a crazy world.

Kraft Dinner, fish sticks and frozen corn was a staple meal at our house. I'm sure we ate it at least once a week. Both my parents worked outside the home, and I was a latchkey kid starting in Grade 1. By Grade 3/4 I was starting most of the dinners, so KD was a pretty natural choice. Also pork chops fried in the electric frying pan. I have a clear memory of proclaiming at around age 9 that my favourite "spice" was Accent a.k.a. MSG. My nine year old makes a great tomato butter sauce, fantastic guacamole and pretty good nachos, but I can't imagine eating food cooked by her and to her tastes 5 nights out of 7.

Re: soy vs soya, I say soy bean, soy bean oil and spell it soy sauce, but when I say it, there is definitely a soft a at the end of soy.
posted by looli at 8:47 PM on August 31, 2012


Ok, wasn't sure what I was doing for dinner tonight, till I stumbled on a deluxe poutinerie that just opened up in my neighbourhood. So dinner was the standard poutine + mushrooms, caramelized onions, and sliced steak mixed in. Before I ordered, though, I was told what they were out of: bacon, and KD. Apparently their poutine + KD really sells. The kid behind the counter couldn't understand it either.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:49 PM on August 31, 2012


And Durn Bronzefist, where are you finding Wig Wams?? I would trade a kidney for a Wig Wam. Cherry Blossoms, on the other hand, I could just walk down the hall to a co-worker's office where he keeps them by the case in his desk. BY THE CASE!!
posted by looli at 8:50 PM on August 31, 2012


They were rare even when I was a kid. Seems like once a year I'd get together with a friend and wax nostalgic about this awesome bar but could never remember the name.

Then I was overseas somewhere. Chiang Mai, I think. Drinking on a porch with some Brits. We start talking chocolate, so I describe this amazing bar. And that's when they hit me with it -- we've got those, they said, but they're called Curly Wurlys. So when I returned home, I was sometimes able to find these in shops that had a Brit import section. When Sugar Mountain came along, I believe they stocked them and may still do. And they're better than the Wig Wags I would find anyway, because the rare bar I would locate was manufactured who knows when, and were hard as rock. But these are the same thing.

Now I believe you can find Curly Wurly's at Bulk Barn, where they stock candy near the front. It's also my source for Fizz and Chews. Haven't seen a bar in Wig Wag wrapping in possibly 20 years. Which I guess is how you can have an eBay auction for just the wrapper and have competing bids.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:21 PM on August 31, 2012


Man, that Flickr page is full of Canadians jonesing for a Wig Wag (and several noting other sources for Curly Wurlys).
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:23 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I miss WigWags (up here in the frozen north)
posted by chapps at 10:14 PM on August 31, 2012


OMG! Wig wags! How freakin old are you, eh? I have not seen those in decades.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:19 PM on August 31, 2012


I'm 42 (in metric years) and I still remember eating them when I was about 8. You could still get pop shop in the stubbies back then too.

My biggest KD association is university tuition protests. Eating it. Shaking boxes of it while the Board of Governors raised tuition.
posted by chapps at 10:23 PM on August 31, 2012


When I don't pronounce it "soy sauce", I make sure to use an atrocious Italian accent. "Mamma mia! Pass the soy-a sauce, please! A-thank you, gracias. (I know. I said atrocious.)
posted by five fresh fish at 10:23 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


bondcliff: "Oh, man, once I ate that 'healthy' version of KD, with the whole wheat noodles? That was... a Big Mistake.

I remember when Annie's Shells and Cheddar came out everyone was super excited about how it was so much better than Kraft because, you know, it was all natural or something and used white cheddar and had a bunny on the box and a bunch of marketing nonsense about being health.

But when you taste it... it's not very good. It's still mac and cheese from a box, and if you're going to eat mac and cheese from a box you're not looking for health food so you might as well eat the florescent orange crap to get that full effect.
"

HERETIC! I will eat Annies any fucking day of the weak over Kraft. Or, wait you mean the powdered stuff? Sure, but their pouched liquid cheese is hella better than the velveeta/kraft-liquid stuff.

I gave up on Kraft when they started changing their fucking noodles to resemble all the generic noodles that the offbrands had. Kraft used to have these awesome fatty noodles, but then they just got tinier and tinier to the point that they were just like the cheap crap, and that's when I decided to switch. I used to be a firm believer, saying that I wasn't much about brand names when it came to things, but Kraft was one exception until everything changed.

Now I'm all about Annies. But not the powdered stuff.
posted by symbioid at 10:51 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Some friends of ours went to a supermarket deli counter and found some sort of... Kraft Dinner... lunch "meat." It was something like mortadella with Kraft Dinner mixed into it. Probably one of the worst foods I have ever seen.

Sounds like they found "macaroni & cheese loaf". When I had it it was closer to a bland bologna than mortadella.

That, or a spoonful of Colman's mustard tossed in the mix.

This is called Keen's Mustard in Canada. Keen's tastes like the British Colman's, at least.

Smarties are super-awesome versions M&Ms

The candy shell is too thick, and kinda tastes like paper. But all the same, I still have a few fun-size boxes every year at Halloween.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 1:27 AM on September 1, 2012


I loved KD so much as a kid/student. I try it again once a year or so, but it never lives up to the memory.

KD is a national institution like Tim Hortons. It makes no logical sense, but we make do with what little national self-identity we have.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 1:56 AM on September 1, 2012


DiGiorno frozen pizza is called Delissio.

Another one for you: Premium Plus crackers are just called Premium in the US.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 2:09 AM on September 1, 2012


Hmm. I always thought the American Marathon bar was similar to a Wig Wag, and it's hard to find pictures of it out of its wrapper, but it looks to be the same thing.

Oh, pop shop, or "pic-a-pop" as it was known in my neck of the woods. I had a chance to grab one of those orange trays a year or two back but was in an anti-clutter phase and passed it up. I miss them. But... someone is apparently trying to bring it back?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:16 AM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thank god you couldn't just buy the cheese powder separately or I probably would have tried to snort it.

Cabot makes a cheddar cheese powder. It's insane good. It might be cocaine. I'm not sure.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:56 AM on September 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


I got around to reading the whole article, and it's worth it for a bunch of details; the author sits on a Kraft tasting panel comparing versions of Kraft Dinner. Kraft hired a "fusion" chef.

One interesting fact, in 1904 Canada exported 234 million pounds of cheese, compared to today: "we export only 19 million pounds of cheese, ... while we import more than 55 million."

I find the scale of that kind of remarkable. The population of Canada is more than five times what it was then, but nobody buys our cheese anymore? Is it just that "Canadian Cheese" was the fashion at the time, but no longer, or do people not eat nearly as much cheese as they used to?
posted by RobotHero at 1:51 PM on September 1, 2012


( Oh, I forgot the detail about the fusion chef doesn't eat Kraft Dinner, but his kids do. Because of course. )
posted by RobotHero at 1:58 PM on September 1, 2012


I think it's that the population of Canada is five times what it used to be which means a) we eat 5 times as much of our own cheese and b) less room for cows.
posted by jacquilynne at 2:14 PM on September 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I like, specifically, the "white cheddar and shells" Annie's on occasion, but sadly, the stuff with the cute bunny pasta is awful.
posted by maryr at 4:23 PM on September 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Okay, the best Mac & Cheese in the world is my mom's, which she no longer makes (I suppose I could beg her to make it for me one time, but as it is a somewhat lengthy process and she doesn't eat wheat anymore I doubt this will happen).

I think it's based off a very standard baked mac & cheese recipe, maybe Joy of Cooking even. The key components are: How good is it? So good that every other mac & cheese makes me sad with a wistful longing. So good that whenever it was served I would happily forgo any kind of dessert in order to preserve more space for it instead. So good that even know, probably 15 years since the last time I tasted it, I can still bring forth memories of the burnt milk and sweet oniony goodness battling the subtle bitterness of the sharp cheddar.
posted by Deathalicious at 2:13 AM on September 2, 2012


Marc Bittman's Mac and Cheese recipe calls for lots of onions. Surely not as good as your mom's, Deathalicious, but it reminded me in case you want to give it a try.
posted by sweetkid at 8:36 AM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anyone not eating Canadian Cheese has simply not tried Comox Camembert & Brie
posted by chapps at 8:46 AM on September 2, 2012


had some last night actually.
posted by philip-random at 8:56 AM on September 2, 2012


One of my first sleepovers as a kid, we were about 6. The friend's parents announced we were having macaroni & cheese for dinner. I got excited... until I saw it was Velveeta. I'd never had the Velveeta version before, and it was a disappointing meal for me. Around 11pm, I had my friend's mom call my parents to come pick me up & take me home. Looking back, I think that Velveeta box was a splurge for that family. We stopped hanging out about a year later, but that didn't have anything to do with that night.

I left North America two years ago, and since then, I'd estimate I've imported 30 packages of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. I have friends ship it when they're sending me care packages. I stock up at the supermarket when I'm in the States and repack the contents in ziploc bags, because those boxes crack open a bit too easily. I hoard these dime bags of home in my cupbard, to be pulled out on sad evenings that call for indulgences. My Dutch supermarket has an American-ish section in the ethnic foods aisle. There is a brand of macaroni & cheese available, but it is overpriced and looks terrifyingly awful, in that it's knock-off fake cheese and pasta. Nothing will ever match the old classic blue box for me... Except maybe the spirals.
posted by knile at 4:42 PM on September 2, 2012


My Dutch supermarket has an American-ish section in the ethnic foods aisle.

Love the thought of that.
posted by sweetkid at 7:13 PM on September 2, 2012


RobotHero: “One interesting fact, in 1904 Canada exported 234 million pounds of cheese, compared to today: 'we export only 19 million pounds of cheese, ... while we import more than 55 million.' I find the scale of that kind of remarkable. The population of Canada is more than five times what it was then, but nobody buys our cheese anymore? Is it just that 'Canadian Cheese' was the fashion at the time, but no longer, or do people not eat nearly as much cheese as they used to?”

jacquilynne: “I think it's that the population of Canada is five times what it used to be which means a) we eat 5 times as much of our own cheese and b) less room for cows.”

Well, here's an interesting discussion of the way cheese exports went way down in Canada – and by the way, that huge drop occurred mostly in the first decade of the 1900s, not after:

“Cheese was, in 1900, the country’s [Canada's] most valuable export. By 1913 only two-thirds as much cheese was being exported. The fall in bacon exports was even steeper. The problem was a reduction in export supply. The reasons for that, especially in the case of cheese, are rather complicated... The source of the problem is found in the very economic growth that the country was experiencing.”

— "THE DECLINATION OF CANADA’S CHEESE AND BACON EXPORT INDUSTRIES, 1900-1910." [PDF]

That paper is totally worth it for the opening line, by the way:

“There was a time in this fine land when cheese and bacon ruled.”
posted by koeselitz at 8:54 PM on September 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


When I go back to Canada to visit my mom every few years, she continues to be mildly insulted that in addition to the foods she cooked for me in my youth that she wants to cook again for me, I am compelled to get a good half-dozen boxes of KD in as well, even if I am bewildered by the proliferation of variations they sell now.

There's nothing quite like it, and it is one of the dominant comfort foods of my childhood.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:03 PM on September 2, 2012


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